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Miami Film Fest Review: ‘A La Calle’ Powerfully Illustrates Venezuela’s Humanitarian Crisis

With a presidency that continues to be disputed by two parties, Venezuela has become a microcosm of the ideological war between authoritarianism and democracy that has taken root around the world. In their new documentary A La Calle, Maxx Caicedo and Nelson G. Navarrete look back on the past decade of the country’s politics to understand the country’s present day economic and political crisis. The result is an in-depth analysis that is both captivating and informative.

As its title suggests, A La Calle takes audiences to the front-lines of Venezuela’s ongoing civil conflict, as thousands of citizens take to the streets to protest a country in free fall. With empty shelves in stores and in homes, an epidemic of hunger has sparked a national movement. Having inherited power from the late Hugo Chavez, President Nicolas Maduro has maintained a firm grip on the government, despite the outcome of an election that put the opposition in power via winning the National Assembly. Refusing to step down, he sets out to silence dissidents across all levels of society. As Maduro begins to resemble a dictator, the fight continues to restore democracy and the country’s once prosperous economy.

Dropping audiences into the thick of the conflict with a firsthand perspective, Caicedo and Navarrete quickly commmunicate the scale and gravity of the situation. As the cameras survey huge crowds of passionate protestors and subsequently, the retaliation of armed forces, it opens our eyes to the harsh reality on the ground in Venezuela. Zooming in closer, the film puts a human face to crises through comments from civilians and intimate profiling of several key figures in the struggle.

Notably, the incarceration of grassroots activist and politician Leopoldo Lopez puts Maduro’s authoritarian regime into stark relief. As he is charged with inciting violence despite little evidence, Lopez’ sacrifice is both dispiriting and inspiring. Likewise, several other individuals emerge who challenge the broken system at the risk of their own safety.

Smartly, Caicedo and Navarrete rely not just on the emotional power of anti-Maduro individual testimonies, but supports their message with facts. Through expert interviews and archival reports, the film brilliantly illustrates the timeline of events that led to the current moment. Drawing a through-line from the Chavez administration’s over-reliance on oil and debt-ridden socialist interventions, the film provides a valuable crash course on Venezuelan society. And in the final analysis, there’s no denying the country’s humanitarian crisis, despite Maduro’s denial. As millions flee as refugees or suffer from hyperinflation, A La Calle ensures we never forget their stories of strife and perseverance.

SCORE: ★★

Shane Slater is a passionate cinephile whose love for cinema led him to creating his blog Film Actually in 2009. Since then, he has written for AwardsCircuit.com, ThatShelf.com and The Spool. Based in Kingston, Jamaica, he relishes the film festival experience, having covered TIFF, NYFF and Sundance among others. He is a proud member of the African-American Film Critics Association.

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Written by Shane Slater

Shane Slater is a passionate cinephile whose love for cinema led him to creating his blog Film Actually in 2009. Since then, he has written for AwardsCircuit.com, ThatShelf.com and The Spool. Based in Kingston, Jamaica, he relishes the film festival experience, having covered TIFF, NYFF and Sundance among others. He is a proud member of the African-American Film Critics Association.

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